THEATER: “American Hero” Takes a Bite Out of Franchise Myths at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Larry Murray
Once upon a time in America every city and town had its own locally owned and operated set of restaurants. One of the joys of traveling was arriving someplace new and asking the locals where they liked to eat, and then trying them out. Some places still cling to real food, places like Williamstown. But in the rest of America, that all changed in the 1970′s and today the American food industry is dominated by franchises of rubber-stamp food that is boring, monotonous and profitable. It stopped being “cheap” a long time ago. The largest and poorest group of American workers in the US are those that labor at these chain operations, some 3.5 million of them, and they live the life of the eternally trapped with all sorts of rules and no individuality or creativity allowed.
In Bess Wohl’s fascinating new play American Hero, we meet three workers and one boss, and guess who keeps the owner’s operation functioning. Sheri, Jamie and Ted fill out their employment forms, meet the boss and in the first section of the play are in a race to prepare and wrap their Heroes (or Subs, Torpedoes, Hoagies or whatever) in under 20 seconds.